Tragedy struck in Osceola County, Florida where a family from Massachusetts was involved in a fatal crash after their rental van was rear-ended by a pickup truck on Tuesday.
Our sister station, WFTV-TV, located in Central Florida, was live at the scene overnight.
According to Lieutenant Kim Montes of Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ Troop D, the impact from the pickup truck flipped the van onto its side forcing first responders to help get some of the victims out.
The eight passengers of the van consisted of a mother, father, grandparents and four siblings, including a set of five-year-old twins.
Scarlett Smith, 5, Jackson Smith, 11, Julie Smith, 41, and Josephine Fay, 76, died in the crash, authorities said. The Smith family is from Whitman, Massachusetts, and the Fays are from South Weymouth, Massachusetts.
The accident report initially said Jackson was in critical condition, but by Wednesday afternoon he had been pronounced dead at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando. Two other children — Shalie Smith, 10, and Skyler Smith, 5 — were not injured in the crash. But the report said they were taken to the hospital for monitoring.
Driver Shane Smith, 43, and passenger William Fay, 76, were taken to an Orlando hospital in stable condition.
All the occupants in the car had been wearing seat belts, the crash report shows. It is unclear if Shane Smith had been wearing one.
Troopers say traffic in the southbound lanes of State Road 429 was beginning to slow down when they believe the pickup truck rear-ended the van, causing it to turn over. Two other vehicles were also hit by the pickup truck, but those drivers were not seriously hurt.
Troopers are interviewing witnesses to get a better idea of what caused the crash.
The report said charges are pending against the pickup truck’s driver Lucas Dos Reis Laurindo, 26, of Kissimmee. The blood sample he voluntarily provided is being tested but authorities do not believe he was impaired.
All four of the Smith family children attended Merry Deb Child Care in Whitman. A worker told us the family was excited about their trip to Disney World and had been talking about it for weeks. Scarlett and her twin sister were currently going to the day care, while the other children were in public schools in Whitman.
“Sweethearts. Full of life, full of energy. They are just wonderful children,” said Darlene Staples. “When something like this happens, it affects all of us. And I just wanted everyone to know we are there for them for whatever they need."
The Whitman-Hanson School District released a statement saying counseling and administrative teams would be ready to support the victims’ classmates and teachers.
Sheila Howard has been a neighbor of grandparents Josephine and William Fay in Weymouth for nearly 50 years. Knowing that four of them won’t be returning home from their trip to Disney World tears at her heart.
“It’s just a sad thing to think about, I [had] just seen the kids," Howard said. “You have that vision of playing in the yard.”
Heartbroken friend Mike Finn told Boston 25 News that he’s known the family since he was in kindergarten and can’t imagine the grief now consuming the surviving four family members.
“It’s just [a] shock, you cry, you don’t understand, it’s very hard to process," he said.
In Whitman neighbors left lit candles on front porches in a showing of support. The town’s youth soccer organization also is holding a candlelight prayer service for the victims and their families on Friday at 7 p.m. at the town’s middle school soccer field.
The investigation into the crash is ongoing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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